What’s the Difference between Solicitation and Human Trafficking and Why Is It Important If You’re Arrested?

David Lindsey, Attorney at Law

Any arrest, especially when it’s linked to a sex crime, can be scary and intimidating. This is especially true if your arrest involves solicitation. But what happens if the law is interpreted in such a way that you’re not only charged with solicitation, you’re also charged with human trafficking?

Why is there a distinction and what is the main difference between human sex trafficking and solicitation?

Defining Solicitation

Solicitation occurs when a request for a sexual act is made. If money is given in exchange for the sexual act, solicitation is a crime. If the solicitation involves an underage child it’s a felony crime. Laws vary from state to state concerning whether the solicitation of an adult is a felony or misdemeanor, but it’s usually a misdemeanor.

Defining Human Trafficking

Human sex trafficking is related and is a sex crime, but it’s generally viewed as more serious. It’s a federal offense no matter the age of the victims or any other factors. Trafficking occurs when someone, often a third party, uses threats, coercion, or tricks to lure someone into prostitution. Victims of sex trafficking are moved from one location to another and typically forced into the sex trade against their will.

Why the Difference Matters

If you find yourself facing charges of solicitation and/or human trafficking, it’s important to understand the difference because the penalties vary a great deal. You can get into trouble for breaking laws related to solicitation, but the punishment is going to be a great deal different than it would be if what you did is construed as trafficking.

Making matters worse, a lot of people confuse the two crimes or assume someone guilty of solicitation must have been involved in trafficking. Unfortunately, blurring the line between these two semi-related crimes hasn’t done anyone any good and can be especially problematic if you’re the one accused of a crime.

Treating solicitation as if it is the same as trafficking can not only hurt those accused of a crime, it can make life more difficult for those involved in sex work voluntarily.

As a matter of fact, that’s one of the key differences between trafficking and sex work: victims of trafficking are just that – victims – who have not chosen their lives. They have been forced into their role and would not continue to do what they are doing if given a choice.

Voluntary sex workers, on the other hand, have not been coerced or threatened into their role. They entered into sex work knowingly and willingly and continue to choose to do what they are doing. And in most places, sex workers are also committing a crime, while those who have been trafficked are not criminals.

This means if you’re accused of solicitation you’re engaging in a crime with someone who has willingly agreed to commit that crime with you. If you’re participating in trafficking, the person or persons being victimized are not participating willingly. Furthermore, you don’t even need to intend to engage in a sex act with the victim to be accused of trafficking.

For a more detailed explanation of how the FBI defines sex trafficking, check out this information on their website.

Every case is different and it’s easy to see why it can be difficult to interpret the law correctly and determine exactly what crimes took place when it comes to sex crimes and trafficking. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to have an experienced attorney who understands the legal differences between sex trafficking and solicitation working for you if you’re accused of any sex related crime.

If you’ve been accused of either crime and you aren’t sure what to do next, I can help. Contact David Lindsey to schedule a consultation.

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